County Survey Program
The Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory (IHSSI) of historic/architectural resources has been a continuing program of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology (DHPA) since the mid-1970s. It is the responsibility of the DHPA’s Survey and Registration Section to administer and maintain the survey data that have been collected on all above-ground resources identified since the program began.
The major impetus for a comprehensive inventory of Indiana’s cultural resources came from the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The Act declared it the policy of the federal government to foster the preservation of our cultural resources in partnership with the states, local governments, and the private sector. In order to carry out this policy, the Act established the National Register of Historic Places, composed of buildings, sites, structures, objects and districts significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. It also established a partnership between the federal government and the states, whereby each state developed a state historic preservation program to be approved by the U. S. Secretary of the Interior. To gain approval, the governor of the state appointed a State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and a state review board. The DHPA serves as the State Historic Preservation Office for Indiana. Two of the responsibilities of the SHPO are directly related to the survey program. One is to conduct a comprehensive statewide survey of historic properties and maintain inventories of such properties for the purpose of locating, identifying, and evaluating cultural resources. Another responsibility is to protect such resources by ensuring that historic properties are considered in planning and development through the environmental review process.
How does the survey process happen?
Survey and Registration staff completes initial planning for each county survey, including the evaluation of previously identified historic districts and identification of new historic districts. Preliminary research into a county’s history initially guides the field surveyors to understanding a county’s particular development. Once the historical research is complete, the county is systematically surveyed, township-by-township, by driving every public road. Every building, cemetery, and bridge or other above-ground resource that is at least 40 years old is surveyed. Surveyors complete a survey form, take photographs, and record a geographic reading via GPS for every property that meets these requirements and retains enough of its historic materials to be identified as historic construction. Each form records basic geographic information including county, township, city/town, address; architectural information including estimated date of construction, architectural type or style, building materials, changes/alterations for that building or structure; potential areas of significance and rating, and a site plan. The surveyor does not research the history of a property.
What do the Ratings Mean?
Rating System in SHAARD: In assessing integrity, surveyors attempted to determine how much of the original architectural fabric remained. They may have lowered a property’s rating if it experienced extensive alterations, such as the application of artificial siding, removal of trim or porches, later additions, changes to windows, or structural modifications. The relocation of a building from its original site often lowered its rating. After consideration of these factors, DHPA, Indiana Landmarks, and CHP assigned one of the following ratings to each property.
- Outstanding: The “O” rating means that the property has enough historic or architectural significance that it is already listed, or may be eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places. “Outstanding” resources can be of local, state, or national importance
- Notable: The “N” rating means that the property did not quite merit an “outstanding” rating but still is above average in its importance. Further research may reveal that the property is eligible for National Register listing.
- Contributing: The “C” rating means that the property met the basic inventory criterion of being pre-1970, but that it is not important enough to stand on its own as individually “outstanding” or “notable”. Such resources are important to the destiny or continuity of an area’s historic fabric. “Contributing” properties may appear in the National Register if they are part of a historic district but do not usually qualify individually.
- Non-Contributing: Properties rated “NC” are not included in the inventory unless they are located within a historic district. Such properties are usually built after 1970, are older structures that have undergone bad alterations and lost historic character, or are otherwise incompatible with their historical surroundings. These properties are not eligible for the National Register.